SaaS Content Marketing Strategy Explained: How to Build One for Your Business
Do you feel like your content marketing program is brainstorming different ideas and publishing the best one? Do you get distracted every three months and try something new? You’re not alone. But if this resonates it means you don’t have a content marketing strategy.
This is why it’s essential to document your SaaS content marketing strategy. It not only holds you accountable to your own actions, but it shows you understand the business model and your work is contributing to growing it which is ideal to secure raises and promotions.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through must-haves for a B2B or SaaS content marketing strategy.
How are B2B and SaaS content marketing strategies different?
First of all, SaaS (software as a service) is a type of B2B (business to business). A B2B organization can be a retail business or exist as a service business like a marketing agency. Whereas SaaS is exclusively subscription software only.
The formations of the marketing strategies are the same for both B2B and SaaS content marketing, however the difference as with every strategy is in the tactics (more on tactics later).
How to develop a SaaS content marketing strategy
You can distill a SaaS content marketing strategy into seven steps:
- Find your target audience
- Decide on your types of content creation
- Actively improve business objectives
- Narrow down on metrics to measure success
- List tactics that will influence important metrics
- Create windows of measurement and analysis
- Distribute content to grow your business
1. Find your audience
Who will you create for? This is the first question to answer when developing a content marketing strategy, but often it’s glossed over. It’s glossed over because if you’re a content creator, you often jump into content creation before deciding who it’s for. I understand why, as content creators it’s why we took the job in the first place: creation is fun. However, we need to be precise about who we’re creating for.
Your target audience should be based on people, not fictitious personas. This is because talking with your target audience allows you to understand their life at work. What are the challenges, pain points, hopes, or dreams they have daily?
Ideas for getting started in finding your target audience:
- Google your product or service category. What else comes up? How do they talk to their audience?
- Find what your customers talk about online. Where do they hang out and find a community to console or celebrate with?
- Talk to your target market. What are they buying right now? Ask them what businesses they already buy from in the SaaS space.
- Look at the relevant social media accounts. Who is your target audience following, who are receptive to?
- Go shopping online. How do your competitors sell their software? What does that experience feel like?
Note: Just as your business might have more than one type of customer, your content strategy can cater to more than one type of reader or viewer.
2. Decide on your types of content creation
What will you create? Ideally, your product or service solves a problem you know your audience has and your content coaches and educates your audience through this problem as they begin to identify and address it.
The content you create, or your “voice,” should be:
- Driven and aligned by what your audience values and what your company values
- Grounded and aligned with business goals
- A system or flywheel and move away from publishing ideas
When putting together a content marketing strategy, aim to move away from publishing the odd idea here and there. It’s okay to run experiments, but do understand that content creation should be driven by:
- Audience research
- Keyword research
- Sales and customer support feedback
By following this approach, you serve the customer journey and entire sales funnel from top to bottom. Putting this into action, content creation for SaaS companies could look like:
- Top of the funnel: Use keyword research to address high-level topics and introduce new readers to your brand.
- Middle of the funnel: Use keyword research in addition to sales and support feedback to tie problems to your specific solution.
- Bottom of the funnel: Use sales and support feedback to write directly about your product.
Choose a content format
While SaaS companies generally start out with written content on the blog, if your market is saturated heavily with written content you may need to consider podcasting or video marketing to get a foot in the door.
While an SEO strategy is essential to any online business, and blog content will help grow those efforts, your SaaS company needs to build momentum with its content. Do note that production of podcasting and video marketing can be pricey. But if you or someone on your team has any audio or video editing skills high-quality content can be produced on a budget. For example, my passion project for Boston Content’s Content Marketing Playbook started out because I have audio engineering skills.
3. Focus on improving business objectives
Make a list of all of the relevant business objectives, sometimes called KPIs (key performance indicators), that you’re trying to achieve through content marketing. Ideally settle on three to narrow your focus.
Business objectives could be:
- Increase traffic
- Drive event registrations
- Generate trials or users
- Sell products
- Grow organic traffic
- Improve brand awareness
- Grow email subscribers
When picking your KPIs and goals, be aware of the ones content marketing can have a direct impact on. Unless you’re an ecommerce brand you don’t want to promise potential customers. This is because even if your content funnel is perfect but your product trial users aren’t converting into paying customers, this is a product issue not a marketing issue.
In my experience SaaS companies typically choose to generate trial users, grow email list subscriptions, and increase organic traffic as their business objectives.
4. Narrow down on metrics to measure success
Having clear business goals is an important first step, but ultimately these become marketing goals that need to be translated into metrics. Metrics can be measured and tracked over time to see if your strategy is creating an impact on the business. For each business objective you’re looking to influence, you should identify one to three metrics.
If we move forward with our SaaS content marketing example, our KPIs are to generate trial users, grow email subscriptions, and increase organic traffic. We need to track metrics that show we’re creating impact toward these goals.
If we’re looking to generate trial users then we need to track things like trial sign ups from the blog. And since we’re owning organic traffic, we can track trial sign ups specifically from organic search.
5. List tactics that will influence important metrics
Metrics give us more precision over what we were trying to do with our content marketing and how we would measure success. Now we need to identify our tactics to meet those goals.
For each set of metrics, you’ll want to identify at least one targeted tactic. Tactics are the actions you do daily or weekly that should contribute and increase the value of your chosen metrics.
Continuing our SaaS content marketing example we have:
- Business objective: Generate trial users
- Metrics: Trial sign ups from blog, Trial sign ups from organic search
- Tactics: Add call to action on blog content, Try retargeting and direct response ads, Write case studies
Tip: You don’t want to try too many tactics at once and dilute your focus or actions. Doing less can add up quicker over time than being scattered. Also you’ll avoid burnout.
6. Create windows of measurement and analysis
Measurement and analysis are a fundamental part of our content strategy. Not only does measurement and analysis allow our team to assess success and progress, but it also provides us with cues when experimenting with new content, promotional tactics, and growth projects.
Got pressure from a Senior Leader to try something new but have a hunch that it won’t work well? Measure and analyze it and show them how that didn’t work. From there, you’ll win their trust and an opportunity to take the reins on what to try next.
Get the right tech stack to make sure that you can measure your content marketing efforts:
Install analytics to understand website visitors
The first thing you want to have installed, if you haven’t already, is analytics software. Both Google Analytics and Search Console are free. Google Analytics lets you see where traffic comes into your website, how traffic interacts on your website, and tracks conversion rate. Google Search Console is essential for SEO. It helps you decode everything from technical SEO to understanding what search terms your pages are gathering impressions on and then optimizing how your pages appear on search engine results pages. It’s a vital tool for any content marketer that has plans for organic search (hint: that should be everyone).
Use goal tracking to track conversions
Goal tracking is the pivotal step to be able to see what pages cause conversions. If you want to track trial sign ups or email subscribers then you’ll most likely need goal tracking in place. If you’ve installed Google Analytics then this is a useful tutorial/guide.
Create custom reports to gather advanced data
Custom reports allow you to see at a glance some of the useful data in a single place without having to create filters or tweak traffic sources. It’s a pre-programmed report that lives in Google Analytics. The best part is you can slice and dice data to learn more about your website. Also you can go back any time to tweak dashboards to get more data. Here’s an excellent guide on the topic.
Use link tracking to understand where traffic comes from
If you’re doing any content promotion or running paid ads, link tracking is essential to measure the origin of that traffic. For content promotion you can track where you’re driving traffic from and answer questions like: is it worth my time to post on Quora, Reddit, or Industry forums? For paid ads, if you’re running three Google Ads at one time, it’s how you measure which particular ad performs best for clicks or conversions.
Use an SEO tool to measure organic success
SEO tools help you find new keywords to target when creating new pages; they also allow you to measure the current rank of existing pages for their target terms. Beyond that you can use them to track the amount of backlinks your website has, its domain authority or rating, both essential metrics that help you build your presence in search.
7. Distribute content to grow your business
What will you do after clicking the “Publish” button on a blog post, video, or podcast?
Many of the content ideas you think of will be evergreen—they're just as relevant months from now as they are today. But there’s opportunity in timely topics as well. While they may not be the bulk of your editorial calendar, a piece of content like this can help you generate a spike in traffic.
Sharing on your company’s Twitter and LinkedIn social media channels isn’t enough, but it’s a start. While doing audience research, you should have stumbled upon where customers hangout online, what they read or consume, and which social media platforms they use. How can you get your content in front of them?
- Are there any content partnerships with other companies that can be made?
- Which influencers would be interested in this?
- Is there a story here for PR or media coverage?
- Share on social but are there any industry specific forums you can start a conversation about this topic on? What about popular forums like Reddit or the question and answer site, Quora? Will your content be of interest to readers there?
These are only a handful of questions to start with when planning a content distribution or promotion marketing campaign. If you’re in a niche space it may feel impossible to get someone to share a blog post on oil tankers. Distribution for a B2B SaaS company is challenging but it’s the only way to get your content in front of the right people.
Content marketing can work across many channels and support the buyer’s journey. Here’s an example of what it could look like:
Channel / Content Type
Forums / message boards
Interest / consideration (MoFu)
Webinar / demo
Simplifying SaaS content marketing strategy
SaaS content marketing is a vital part of a digital marketing strategy. It can be challenging but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Only the best content marketing courses will teach you the seven principles above.
You have to choose your audience and content types first, before you jump into creating. From there, build up a refined list of business goals and create a daily list of tactics that will roll up into increasing these goals. It’s down to you to get started on your strategy.